Sunday, March 27, 2005

Sunday Brunch: Cinnamon Buns

As far as I can tell, the difference between a cinnamon roll and a cinnamon bun is that the latter has some sort of icing, while the former does not. I find this to be somewhat akin to the difference between cupcakes and muffins. While there are plenty of roll recipes, many bun recipes seem to be for "sticky buns". Now I like a bit of icing, but I don't like something that I am expected to eat with my hands to be terribly gooey. A little gooey and we can talk...
Easter brunch is a good occasion for cinnamon buns because they can be served at room temperature. Of course they're best warm, but no one wants to slave over a hot stove making waffles or pancakes when they could be outside enjoying a gorgeous LA morning with friends. At least, I don't.
I was going for a basic recipe to create a bun that was rich enough, but not so rich that you couldn't have two. Though I enjoy kneading bread, it isn't necessary because this recipe uses an electric mixer. I didn't measure the cinnamon or brown sugar, just sprinkled them directly from their containers until the rough was covered. When I sliced the logs, I threw out the end pieces that didn't have much cinnamon and were uneven. If I were better at rolling out the dough, I definately could have gotten a couple more buns out of the recipe.
I really loved these. Sweet, cinnamon-y and just sticky enough to give you something to lick off your fingers. The dough didn't taste quite as rich as a brioche, but still had a feathery crumb and a nice rich taste. This recipe is a keeper! I think that they're best slightly warm.
These can be kept at room temperature, well wrapped, or frozen. Reheat them in the microwave if you prefer your buns warm and slightly sticky.

Cinnamon Buns

1/2 cup water, warmed
2 tsp sugar
2 packets active dry yeast
1 1/2 cups milk, warmed
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 tbsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
4 tbsp butter, softened
5 1/2-6 cups flour

Combine first three ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Let stand for 10 minutes, until yeast is foamy.
Add milk, eggs, salt, sugar, butter and 3 cups of flour. Mix until well incorporated and smooth. Add 2 more cups of flour. Mix until smooth. Add any remaining flour in smaller increments until dough comes together and away from the sides of the bowl. Dough will be slightly sticky, but very smooth.
Form dough into a ball and place in greased, covered bowl to rise until doubled, about 1 - 1 1/2 hours.

3-4 tbsp milk
Brown sugar
1 cup raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F.

Coat two 9x13 glass baking dishes with cooking spray or butter.
Remove dough from bowl onto a lightly floured surface.
Divide dough in two and roll each piece out into (roughly) a 10x14 inch rectangle. Brush each rectangle with milk, dust throughly with cinnamon and top with brown sugar. Sprinkle with raisins, if desired. Roll in a jelly-roll fashion beginning at a short end. Pinch seam shut. Repeat for second rectangle.
Slice logs at 1 inch intervals and place rounds in the baking dish so they are just touching.
Bake 15-20 minutes at 400F, until tops are golden brown.
Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Cut apart and drizzle with glaze.
Makes about 20 buns.

Quick and Easy Glaze
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
Enough milk to form a pourable consistency
Stir ingredients until smooth with a fork. Drizzle over cinnamon buns.